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2006 Post Mortem: Infielders
2006-11-29 22:40
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

See also the Outfielders and Starting Pitchers.

C – Jorge Posada .277/.374/.492 (.305 EQA)

At an age when the bottom drops out on most catchers, Jorge Posada had one of the three or four best seasons of his career. He ranked fourth among all major league catchers in VORP, behind a trio of youngsters (Mauer, McCann and Martinez). Best of all, Posada had what was undoubtedly his best defensive season. Whereas Joe Girardi at long last taught Posada how to block the plate in 2005, Tony Pena taught him how to set his feet to throw resulting in the best caught stealing percentage of his career this past season. At age 35, Jorge Posada is still improving his defense and hitting better than most catchers do in their prime.

A

1B – Jason Giambi .253/.413/.558 (.334)

Although Giambi's generally been regarded as a DH for years, 2006 was the first season in his career in which he played more games as a DH than he did in the field. Troublingly, despite the prolonged exposure to the non-position, his alarmingly consistent positional splits persisted. Giambi the DH hit a solid .224/.373/.531 (.301 GPA), but Giambi the first baseman hit a resounding .289/.459/.592 (.355 GPA). Unfortunately, Giambi's defense continued to decline this past season to the point at which the idea of Giambi playing the field more than once or twice a week is untenable.

That's the bad news. The good news is that Giambi, despite the DH-related decrease in batting average, remains one of the most productive hitters in baseball (he had the fifth best EQA in the AL in 2006 and was tied with Chipper Jones for the eleventh best mark in the majors). It seemed unthinkable in the offseason following Giambi's scandal, injury, and illness-riddled 2004 season, but Ga-bombi's 2005 and 2006 seasons, in which he's hit a combined .262/.426/.547 with 69 homers and 200 RBIs, rank with his best. By both EQA and OPS+, Giambi's best seasons, in order, are his final season with the A's in 2001, when he wrongly lost the MVP to Ichiro Suzuki by a mere eight points, the previous year, when he properly won the award, his underappreciated first season with the Yankees in 2002, 2005 and 2006. In chart form that looks like this:


YearTeamEQAOPS+
2001A's.381202
2000A's.372188
2002Yankees.352174
2005Yankees.348156
2006Yankees.334154

Yes, three of Jason Giambi's five best seasons have come in pinstripes.

The only catch here is that nagging injuries and his poor performance in the field have limited Giambi's overall playing time so that, despite ranking fifth in the AL in the rate stat EQA, he was a mere 19th in the cumulative (and position-based) VORP. During his peak, Giambi came to the plate at least 660 times a year. In 2006, he made just 579 plate appearances. Indeed, by advanced cumulative stats, Giambi's 1999 and 2003 seasons were both more productive than either his 2005 or 2006 seasons. Still, he's a tremendous offensive asset.

A

2B – Robinson Cano .342/.365/.525 (.307)

In a season preview for The Hardball Times, I attempted to predict the hitting lines for each of the Yankee starters. To do so I used the career stats for every player between 25 and 35 years old. For 23-year-old sophomore Robinson Cano, however, I had to improvise a bit. What I came up with was .290/.310/.450. With that estimate, the key component of Cano's offensive game appeared to be his slugging. So when he finished the first two months of the season with an expected .293 average and .318 on-base percentage but a measly .383 slugging, I began to worry. By the time Cano injured his hamstring 25 days later, he had increased his slugging by 56 points, but that was largely due to a 32-point boost in batting average. After five weeks on the shelf, however, Cano returned not only to his powerful rookie form, but beyond it, slugging .635 the rest of the way courtesy of 11 homers and 24 doubles in a mere 53 games. When the season ended, Cano was second on the Yankees in slugging and first on the team with 41 doubles. He also finished third in the AL batting race, just five points behind champ Joe Mauer. On top of all of that, his work with Larry Bowa resulted in a dramatic improvement in his defense as he nearly cut his error total in half.

As for his impatience at the plate, Cano did make mild improvements in his walk rate and pitches seen per plate appearance in 2006, though both were so bad in 2005 they were almost impossible to maintain. While his 2006 rates remained among the worst in baseball, he did see more pitches per plate appearance and draw unintentional walks more frequently than future Hall of Famer Vlad Guerrero. That's something. As is the fact that despite missing five weeks, Cano had more than one and a half times the VORP of the second most productive second baseman in the American League and ranked second only to Chase Utley's outstanding season among major league keystoners.

A

SS – Derek Jeter .343/.417/.483 (.324)

Despite the major injuries suffered by big guns Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield, the Yankees won the AL East easily, finishing with the best record in baseball in large part due to their major league best 930 runs scored. During the season it was popular to credit the Yankees' continued success to replacement players such as Melky Cabrera and Andy Phillips. In reality, the Yankees succeeded without their corner outfielders the same way they've won throughout the Joe Torre era, with strength up the middle. Using VORP as a measuring stick, Jorge Posada was the fourth most productive catcher in the majors, Robinson Cano the second most productive second baseman in the majors, Johnny Damon the sixth most productive center fielder in the majors, and Derek Jeter, the team's shortstop, was the third most productive hitter at any position in all of baseball. Ultimately it was Jeter, not Cabrera, and certainly not Phillips, that kept the Yankees not only afloat but at the top of the heap despite the injuries to Matsui and Sheffield. That, plus the fact that he led the AL in VORP is why he should have been the AL MVP.

As it stands, Jeter got screwed in the award voting in a way eerily similar to 1999, when he also should have won the award but didn't. Consider that in 1999, Jeter led the major leagues in VORP, but finished a staggering sixth in the voting. Then, as in 2006, there was a viable alternate choice in Pedro Martinez, but Pedro didn't win either. Instead Ivan Rodriguez, whose VORP total was barely more than half of either Jeter or Martinez's took home the award, beating Pedro by 13 points despite having one fewer first-place vote. This year, Jeter lost to Justin Morneau, who had less than two thirds of Jeter's VORP total, despite the presence of superior alternatives in Joe Mauer and Johan Santana, the latter of whom was within a run of Jeter's VORP total. Mauer and Santana finished sixth and seventh respectively, while it was Jeter who this time came in second a mere 14 points behind the winner.

As for Jeter's performance on the field, he hit the ground running with a .398/.505/.648 April and, save for a power outage in May, never let up. He hit .345/.427/.462 before the break and .342/.405/.507 after, and along the way he stole a team-beat and career-high 34 bases at an outstanding 87 percent clip. Oh, and he won another undeserved Gold Glove as well. Go figure.

A+

3B – Alex Rodriguez .290/.392/.523 (.318)

The first piece I ever wrote for Bronx Banter came a full year before I joined Alex as the official co-author of this blog. It was originally to be a profile of Alfonso Soriano, but as I began working, the Yankees dealt Sori to Texas in a mind-blowing blockbuster deal for all-time great Alex Rodriguez. In attempting to temper expectations for Rodriguez--who never was the best player in the game, or in the running for greatest shortstop of all time--I discovered a slight, but troubling downward trend in Rodriguez's numbers. Asked to follow up my initial piece at the end of the 2004 season, I took a look at that decline, finding a parallel in the career of Ty Cobb. Here's my conclusion:

One might hope that Rodriguez would be able to follow Ty Cobb's lead and have one or two more MVP-quality seasons before settling into his thirtysomething groove. Such optimism is reinforced by the fact that his 2005 campaign will not be burdened by the distractions of switching positions and being the Yankees' Savior of the Year (a title still reserved for Carlos Beltran lest it trickle down to Carl Pavano). Unfortunately, the ability gap between Cobb and Rodriguez is such that it seems foolhardy to expect such a renaissance from the Yankee third baseman. Rather, Yankee fans will likely have to put up with a third baseman who plays gold glove defense, is a threat on the bases (lost in the fallout from The Collapse/Choke/Slapgate is the fact that Rodriguez single-handedly manufactured the winning run of the ALDS to cap off an MVP performance), and hits a lot like Derek Jeter (post-1999) but with about ten extra homers per season. They should all be such disappointments!

So what happened? Rodriguez had one more MVP season, deserving and winning the award in 2005, and in 2006 he hit .290/.392/.523. Compare that to Jeter's .311/.383/.459 composite line for the six seasons between his MVP-worthy 1999 and 2006 seasons. Add in those extra ten homers per season and you boost Jeter's slugging to .525. Bingo.

The rub is that Rodriguez is no longer playing Gold Glove defense. For all the undue criticism of his performance at the plate, the real issue concerning the Yankees' most recent MVP is the fact that his defense at third was atrocious in 2006, with Rodriguez doubling his error total in 100 fewer innings at the hot corner while his range fell well below league average. Given his struggles on defense, complaining about Alex Rodriguez's hitting in small sample splits such as "close and late" is like worrying that your toes are cold while your hair is on fire.

That said, here's hoping Rodriguez's poor defensive showing was a fluke, the result more of the head games that plagued his season than of any mechanical or physical instability. In the meantime, note that he lead AL third baseman in VORP by more than three quarters of Troy Glaus's second place total and boasted the second best VORP total on the Yankees in 2006, being outpaced only by Jeter's MVP-quality season. Meanwhile, Soriano, a vastly inferior player who is less than six months younger than Rodriguez, just signed a deal with the Cubs that will take him through his age-38 season with a higher average annual salary than what the Yankees are paying Rodriguez.

A

Incidentally, you can add Rodriguez and Giambi to the reasons why the Yankees were able to keep winning without Sheff and Matsui. In fact, the hitting lines of the Yankees' five starting infielders is worth another look before we get to the bench players:


Pos.NameAVG/OBP/SLGEQA
1BGiambi.253/.413/.558.334
2BCano.342/.365/.525.307
SSJeter.343/.417/.483.324
3BRodriguez.290/.392/.523.318
CPosada.278/.373/.494.305

Wow.

The Rest:

1B – Andy Phillips .240/.281/.394 (.238) 246 AB

My man Andy finally got the shot he'd long since earned in 2006, though it took major injuries to two of the team's top hitters in order to make it happen. A former second and third baseman, Andy earned high marks for his fielding around the bag, but the same sense of desperation that made him exciting in the field seemed to sabotage him at the plate. Always a patent hitter in the minors, Phillips, convinced you don't walk off the Yankee bench, was overeager at the plate and outside of a couple of hot streaks, did little to quiet doubters who had him pegged as a quadruple-A hitter. Those hot streaks were fun, though. Over seven games as May turned into June, Phillips went 14 for 30 with three homers and 11 RBIs, and he hit .333/.347/.623 for the month as a whole (note the utter lack of plate discipline), knocking three triples over the course of five starts at the end of the month. If nothing else, Phillips managed to spend an entire season in the major leagues for the first time at age 29, and there still remains a chance that he could wind up the short side of a righty-lefty first base platoon with Aaron Guiel in 2007. If so, let's hope the passing of his last-chance rookie jitters and his reunion with Columbus hitting coach Kevin Long are the cure for what ails his batting eye, and in turn his bat.

1B – Craig Wilson .212/.248/.365 (.212) 104AB

As an encore to the Bobby Abreu deal, Brian Cashman acquired the highly regarded Wilson from the Pirates for the unwanted and unused Shawn Chacon. Unlike Abreu, however, Wilson struggled in New York. Arriving as the hitter Andy Phillips could be, he quickly turned into the hitter Phillips was. Like, Phillips, his considerable plate discipline went out the window in the Bronx and his effectiveness at the plate went along with it. In the end, Wilson failed to outperform Phillips' disappointing showing and will likely sign elsewhere as a free agent this winter. That said, there's a strong chance that he'll right himself with his new team, making the Yankees look foolish for allowing 104 at-bats to outweigh his previous 1858.

1B – Aaron Guiel .256/.337/.439 (.274) 82AB

Guiel played more games in the outfield than at first base for the Yankees in 2006, but it was his surprising facility as the left-handed compliment to righties Wilson and Phillips at first that made Guiel a most intriguing addition to the Yankee roster. When the Yankees picked Guiel off of waivers from the Royals in early July, I set the bar for success at a split of .280/.350/.460 against right-handed pitching. For the season (including 50 at-bats with the Royals during which he hit for more power, but with a lower average), Guiel hit .257/.362/.468 (.280 GPA) against righties while playing both first base and all three outfield positions. I'd call that success. Given the sorry state of the Yankee bench in recent years, Guiel is a nice player to have at the league minimum for 2007.

IF – Miguel Cairo .239/.280/.320 (.231) 222 AB

The Yankees got something of a career year out of Cairo in 2004, then botched resigning him, leading to the eminently regrettable Tony Womack deal. Cairo fell back to replacement level as a Met in 2005, but Brian Cashman, perhaps overeager to right the previous offseasons's supposed wrong, rather than considering Cairo a bullet dodged, gave him a million-dollar contract for 2006. Cairo rewarded Cashman's good deed by repeating his Met performance almost exactly. Here's hoping the Yankees have learned their lesson. Incidentally, Cairo credited his improvement to league average in 2004 to Yankee hitting coach Don Mattingly. That relationship was likely part of Cashman's reasoning in bringing Cairo back in 2006. One wonders if Mattingly's failure to recapture the magic with Cairo, fair or not, had something to do with his reassignment to bench coach for 2007.

IF – Nick Green .240/.296/.387 (.241) 75AB

Proof of what both Steve Goldman and I had written before the season, Green--whom the Yankees purchased from the Devil Rays in late May, thus defining the term "replacement level"--outproduced million-dollar Miguel Cairo in 2006. The primary difference between Green and Cairo is that Cairo has more speed while Green has more pop. Green had hamstring injuries to Robinson Cano and Cairo and a Bubba Crosby-like debut (HR, 2 BB, SB, and a pair of great plays at second base at home in the series finale against the Mets) to thank for his playing time. Sadly, he got cocky in the offseason and rejected a minor league assignment, opting instead for free agency. He won't be back.

IF – Andy Cannizaro 2 for 8, 1 BB

A surprising September call-up, the off-the-radar Cannizaro served as an infrequent defensive replacement at second, short and third, picking up a single start at the hot corner and knocking out an even more unexpected home run in the eighth inning of a blowout win against the Devil Rays. Five years from now you won't believe that someone named Andy Cannizaro ever played in 13 games for the Yankees.

C – Kelly Stinnett .228/.282/.304 (.212) 79AB

Backup catchers are not unlike journeymen middle relievers pitchers. Their production fluctuates wildly from year to year and, beyond the very best of their breed (say, Gregg Zaun and Todd Pratt in this case), there's no telling what any particular one will give you in any given season. Such was the case with Stinnett. Brought in to replace the outlandishly awful season John Flaherty had in 2005, Stinnett managed only that and was run out of town mid-season for a nearly identical player.

C – Sal Fasano .143/.222/.286 (.184) 49AB

Realizing that back-up catchers are a bit of craps shoot, Brian Cashman opted to roll the dice again mid-season and acquired Fasano from the Phillies for Class-A middle-infield non-prospect Hector Made in late July. Sal's Vincent Schiavelli eyes and Thurman Munson moustache were a hoot, the latter even inspiring a few of the rowdier Yankees to let their own upper lips go unshaven for awkward amounts of time. But despite his unexpected agility behind the plate, when standing beside it Fasano actually managed to under perform the meager standard set by Stinnett in the first half of the season.

C – Wil Nieves 0 for 6

Nieves made the opening day roster because he was out of options and the Yankee organization was so incredibly thin in terms of major league-ready catching that they couldn't afford to lose a player as otherwise insignificant as Nieves. Four days into the season they picked Koyie Hill off waivers from the Diamondbacks, making Nieves expendable. Once Nieves cleared waivers and was safely back with the organization in Columbus, the Yankees designated Hill for assignment. Hill also cleared and by the season's second week the Yankees were rid of both of them. They spent the year splitting time with Ben Davis behind the plate in Columbus, Nieves's six September appearances were the only major league playing time either saw in 2006.

Comments
2006-11-29 23:50:15
1.   thelarmis
looks like i'm batting leadoff - it's little league all over again! cliff, i'm quite thankful for the late night posts, nocturnal as i am.

we're all quite lucky to have such incredible 411 from you! your grading was more lenient for the infielders than the pitchers. ; )

here's hoping for similar production next season from the Infield 5, plus better defense from a-rod, better platoon at first and better bench...

btw, i used "penultimate" in my, um, penultimate lesson tonight, but it wasn't on purpose! really, i swear...

2006-11-30 01:08:26
2.   joejoejoe
I think Andy Cannizaro is going to be on the Opening Day roster. If they don't resign Cairo who is going to be backup INF? Cannizaro's walks spiked at Columbus last year. It's reasonable to think Cannizaro gives you average fielding with league average OB% for league minimum money. Plus he's in his prime at age 28. Let the Cannizaro era begin!
2006-11-30 02:09:30
3.   Jim Dean
Very nice Cliff. Thanks again. This should remind us that the team is in very good shape even if the rotation was filled with average pitching.

The only stretch in there is the Cairo as helping to cause Donnie's move. Honestly, I think that's a very silly suggestion. If any one player caused Donnie to shift to the bench it was his inability to work with A-Rod (see comments about about Pinella). But I don't even think that's it. There's a very good chance that 2006 will be the last hurrah for Torre. And they need a succession plan or else they're left trying to bring someone from the outside and the circus that will ensue. Donnie fits the criteria nicely (already beloved, Big Stein recognizes his value, handles the media well). Indeed, he's a much better fit than others who will get murmurs (Valentine, Girardi, Buck). While I worry about Trammell Syndrome, I think if they keep the amazing supprt staff in place (Bowa, Pena, Kerrigan), it could be a very smooth transition. If they do it right, they could make it very easy by solving it all in one historic day - hopefully following #27.

Two other (hopefully quick) thoughts:

1) Can we expect the IF 5 (thanks 1) to maintain that fountain of youth production? Only Cano seems like he could legitimately have a better season in 2007. Should we expect regression to age adjusted means? Is that cause to worry? Or will the full seasons of Bobby and Godzilla make up for any difference.

2) First time in a long while that I've read a write-up crediting multiple Yankee coaches for improved seasons from the players. Not only do I agree with you on Bowa and Pena, I feel like shouting their contributions from the rooftops of Manhattan. Further, was there one player thrown out because Bowa sent him? The only guy all season I can think of is Giambi, but he ran through a stop sign. Otherwise, man, I hope they get a catching prospect in to start working with Pena.

2006-11-30 03:26:28
4.   randym77
Is there any chance the Yankees will re-sign Craig Wilson? I really think it would be a mistake to let him go.
2006-11-30 04:43:27
5.   Yu-Hsing Chen
4 do we get any draft picks if Wilson signs with another team?

I think there's a reasonable chance that A-rod have a better 07 than 06, though it's really hard to be a lot better than what he was. except maybe on the defensive end. and Cano's 06 is hard to top, except for the health department. and a tad bit walks.

It would be hilarious is Boston trade Manny to the Dodgers though, Drew and Manny switching places, and the two teams get a feel for each other's head case.

overall, i think as long as whoever we plugs at 1B don't utterly suck (below .700 OPS suck) we should do fine in the scoring department. and we actually had a massive improvement this year in the defense department even with A-rod's head case and Jeter's continued "gold glove" presence at short and Giambi's god awful 1B (mostly thx to Damon/Melky/ and the new and improved Posada / Cano ) should we assemble any real quality pitching staff we should run away with the division again

2006-11-30 05:26:57
6.   Yankee Fan In Boston
hot mess, that was a good read. thanks, cliff.

4 supposedly, ca$hman has been in contact with wilson's agent. (i think i read that at newsday.com, but i am certain that i read it somewhere.)

hideki matsui is known to the gaggle of reporters that follow his every move to be a lover of adult-themed "reading" materials and always jokes about having many girlfriends here in the states. he was ahked how he would treat igawa if he signed with the yankees (the tigers and giants are big rivals over there).

"I am going to support him ... I don't even mind introducing him an American girlfriend if he likes - just kidding,"

2006-11-30 05:45:32
7.   Yankee Fan In Boston
i was reading jon heyman's latest over at si.com, and almost fell out of my seat when i read this:

"However, things are just getting interesting. Though it has never been tried, one potentially conceivable way to even things out for Matsuzaka and Seibu might be for the pitcher to buy his free agency from Seibu after the 30-day negotiating window expires Dec. 15. In other words, if he can't do a deal with Boston, he could possibly pay Seibu a negotiated amount -- say $30 million -- for his free agency, then have multiple choices where to play. Seibu would prefer the $51.1 million, but by then they'd have no choice."

is that even a possibility, or is he making that up?

2006-11-30 05:47:04
8.   Sliced Bread
Ahhh, straight A's around the horn. Thanks for serving up another hearty read, Cliff.

The Infield 5 averaged the following line:

.301/.392/.516/.317

A-Rod contributed:

.290/.392/.523/.318

Gotta love an infield where A-Rod is the average hitter.

2006-11-30 05:56:13
9.   jakewoods
As long as the 1b plays great defense and has an OPS of 700 i dont think it matters whos there

he'll be batting 9th anyway. defense is more important than offense from whoever they play there and if they need offense in june/july that is a spot they can trade for

2006-11-30 05:58:48
10.   mehmattski
Another amazing post Cliff... I agree with 1 that your grading seems a bit more lenient for the infielders... then again, it's hard to imagine anyone putting together a stronger offensive infield better than the Yankees'. Still, if I were Wang's parents, I'd be asking for a conference to discuss his A-.

5 Based on the Free Agent rankings I found here (http://tinyurl.com/yfrlgo) Craig Wilson is not a class A or B free agent, and the Yanks would not get compensation. Had we been going under the old CBA, it's likely he'd be a class C and the Yanks would get a supplemental pick between rounds 2 and 3. But the times, they are a-changin'.

Part of me hopes there's a chance that Giambi finds some kind of conditioning program and gets back into a form where he can play 100 games at first and not be detrimental to the team. This hope is mostly driven by how I would much rather see Melky Cabrera play regularly than I would Andy Phillips. On a related note, if anyone can make Matsui into a viable first baseman, it's Donnie Baseball.

2006-11-30 06:05:07
11.   Yankee Fan In Boston
10 if anyone can make Matsui into a viable first baseman, it's Donnie Baseball.

word. they have a great working relationship already.

that said, i would rather have a somewhat experienced glove there.

2006-11-30 06:12:28
12.   Sliced Bread
4 This is from Anthony McCarron at the NY Daily News:

RIGHT FIT: Craig Wilson remains a possible option in the Yanks' pursuit of a righthanded-hitting first baseman. Cashman has had a conversation with Wilson's agent, and the two are expected to talk again at next week's winter meetings.

2006-11-30 06:20:03
13.   Shaun P
13 The potential best part with Wilson is that, if needed, he could catch. The question, of course, is would Torre let him, even if Posada was going to be out for a month (or longer) - or would one poor performance behind the plate (giving up multiple SBs) banish him?
2006-11-30 06:20:49
14.   Shaun P
13 Crap, I'm creating an infinite loop here. 13 should reference 12.
2006-11-30 06:36:30
15.   Sliced Bread
13 Yeah, who knows if Joe would let Wilson catch, but I'd like to see him get another shot on the Yanks.

According to the NY Post, The Yanks have talked to Dotel's agent. I'd like to see him get another chance. Perhaps Kerrigan could get him back on track.

2006-11-30 07:40:59
16.   yankz
I believe Wilson himself said he shouldn't catch. I might be mistaken though and there's no way I could find the article. Anyone remember this or am I a loony bin?
2006-11-30 07:41:14
17.   jakewoods
it usually takes a yr and half to come back from the surgery dotel had. he could be back at full strength this yr

more power arms the better

2006-11-30 07:42:37
18.   Jim Dean
There's just very little to talk about, huh? It's just not fun without the juicy rumors - maybe next week.

I feel like the backup catching slot has been beaten to death.

As has the backup 1B and the starting pitchers too.

Then when you look at the team, what's left to worry about? Everything else just seems like a wait and see: Unit, Meat, Iggy.

Let's break this down - seems like simple enough choices:

Backup catcher: a) OPP like Barajas or Molina; or b) a Nieves or Hill; or c) redux of John Kelly Fasano; d) Piazza (at 1B too?).

Me: b or d

Backup 1B: a) Hillenbrand; b) Wilson; c) Phillips; d) Guiel

Me: b and d

And what more can you do with the pitching if Iggy gets signed?: Pettitte? Clemens? That's really starting to feel like overkill especially with the prospects? No thanks.

Even then, the only regular that seems tradeable is A-Rod, and then only for a huge deal like Weaver, Shields, and Wood.

Wow, there's just not much to worry about. And all is quiet in Yankeeland.

Is it March yet?

2006-11-30 07:52:16
19.   Cliff Corcoran
Neither Pettitte nor Clemens is coming back, and that Angels trade is ludicrous. The Halos would never give up that much.
2006-11-30 07:56:31
20.   C2Coke
10,11 Re: switching Matsui. It's the same thing I said about Damon potentially switching to 1B. 13 million for a first baseman?

10 Wouldn't you think the parents would be more interested to know why Cairo is making more money than Wang and Cano combined last year?

15 I would love to see Wilson get another chance too because in late last season Torre would only let Wilson "watch." Catch? you said?

2006-11-30 07:58:00
21.   Cliff Corcoran
20 Giambi makes a lot more than $13 million, and Matsui, unlike Damon, hits for enough power to carry the position.
2006-11-30 07:58:12
22.   C2Coke
By the way, cliff, thanks again for the great read and repeated use of the word penultimate (in the Hardball Times article). It's all great!
2006-11-30 07:59:52
23.   C2Coke
21 Only if that means Melky gets the starting LF role next year, then I am all for it.
2006-11-30 08:20:46
24.   Bama Yankee
Great job as usual Cliff. Only an A+ for Jeter??? ;-)

Just kidding, I couldn't resist after the way some people gave you a hard time for the Wang grade the other day (I probably should have worded that a little better).

Those who said you were a tough grader should really appreciate the grades you gave today.

We should all be happy that the only team with more "A's" is Oakland.

2006-11-30 08:26:36
25.   Jim Dean
19 Hey, it wasn't my idea - one of the LA beat guys said it:

http://tinyurl.com/wv63w

But not that I put great weight into it. It's not a rumor or even an educated guess. Though I suppose who would they trade for A-Rod, given his value as a SS or 3B? Even Wood, Santana, and Shields doesn't seem like enough especially since there's no good reason to trade him. Eh, sorry to say anything on that - there's just nothing to get get excited about these days.

No wonder the media has so much trouble meeting deadlines this time of year - they have to resort to body language analyses and verbal spats on .500 teams. Can't wait to see all the rumors next week though...

2006-11-30 08:48:55
26.   Yankee Fan In Boston
25 but they should have plenty to write about next week.
2006-11-30 09:20:59
27.   Count Zero
15 I would be down with giving both Wilson and Dotel another chance...especially Dotel. He looked like he still had great movement last year, he just couldn't hit his spots. Looked a lot like rust to me...
2006-11-30 09:40:04
28.   Count Zero
21 Not that I advocate moving Damon to 1B, but...I'm not sure I get that one Cliff.

Last year Damon hit 24HRs as a Yankee...Matsui is averaging 23HRs per season (not counting last year). Their slugging is almost identical too. You could argue that last year was a fluke for Damon, but I think playing 81 games in HTRB was a factor. (13 at YS, 11 on the road vs. '05 w/Sux 3 at FP, 7 on the road and '04 w/Sux 9 at FP, 11 on the road.) He looks and smells like a 20-25 HR guy in YS to me...

2006-11-30 09:48:59
29.   Cliff Corcoran
28

Matsui career SLG: .485
Damon career SLG: .436

What's the confusion?

2006-11-30 10:14:48
30.   Count Zero
29 2006 Damon slugging: .482 -- which is to my point that YS makes him a different hitter.
2006-11-30 10:19:23
31.   Ben
Damon addea a lot more than I thought he would last year. Here's hoping his YS numbers are not outliers, and being concerned with his power numbers becomes a problem we'd love to have.
2006-11-30 10:23:58
32.   Count Zero
Clarifying -- over the past three seasons, Damon has averaged 9.7 HR on the road. (Fenway would be a dismal HR park for a hitter like him as only the pole is good and he's not likely to hit them over the monster going the other way.) Assuming that the YS porch benefits him just 2 HRs per year (conservative IMHO), he should average 21 HR per season as a Yankee. Which isn't really very different from Godzilla in the US.

Outside of the 31 in '04 (which looks like an aberration), Matsui isn't a power hitter any more than Damon is. Neither one of them really put up 1B numbers, which isn't to say that Wilson, Guiel or Phillips ever will either. /shrug

2006-11-30 10:59:44
33.   JL25and3
16"Anyone remember this or am I a loony bin?"

Are these mutually exclusive options?

Wilson's experience catching is valuable even if he never actually straps on the tools. Usually, pinch-hitting for the backup catcher is considered risky, because if something then happens to the starter, you're in trouble. Same goes for resting your starter in a blowout. With a guy like Wilson, you can make those moves.

2006-11-30 11:04:42
34.   thelarmis
Pete Abe also mentioned the Yanks are possibly interested in keeping Wilson. i sure hope they do. i'm down with re-upping w/ dotel, as well. villone may get offered arbitration. the indians are interested. we'd get a sandwich pick.

i, too, like having bowa & pena on the staff. i'd love a good catching prospect for pena to work with.

red sux signed lefty reliever Okajima to a 2-year deal.

we have guiel signed for next year, right?

2006-11-30 11:09:00
35.   rbj
Nice wrap up Cliff.
I believe A-Rod will bounce back in 2007, '06 was in line with his career low seasons.
And sign Wilson, always good to have a spare emergency backup gun, er catcher.
2006-11-30 11:42:43
36.   David
I would love to see Matsui learn to play 1B and have Melky as the regular LF (assuming that Matsui could learn to play 1B decently.)

My question is: Are the Yankees actually contemplating moving Godzilla to 1B? Or, is it just wishful thinking from a few hot stove league commenters?

2006-11-30 11:50:22
37.   Cliff Corcoran
36 The second thing you said.

34 It is my understanding that the Yankees own Guiel through free agency, though he's out of options and arbitration eligible, which could complicate things.

2006-11-30 11:56:33
38.   thelarmis
37 thanking you! it'll be interesting to see if any combination of wilson/guiel will be back in 07.
2006-11-30 12:01:51
39.   searay
Here's something I've been thinking about for a while and haven't seen posted anywhere. How hard would it be to get a good fielding, decent hitting, third baseman? And how good would Arod look on first?
2006-11-30 12:04:19
40.   mehmattski
37 Sure, it's just wishful thinking, but if enough bloggers say it, that makes it true, right? I've seen the Matsui-to-first movement on ww.com, PeteAbe's blog, RLYW, NoMaas, here... And back when he and Sheff were coming off the DL, Matsui acknowledged that he would be willing to move to first base if that's what was best for the team. It would probably lengthen his career by five years, too. An internet junkie can hope, right?
2006-11-30 12:05:17
41.   mehmattski
39 It's way easier to find a guy who can play first base decently, I would imagine. Third base is a much tougher position to play well.
2006-11-30 12:48:27
42.   searay
But the question is, can Arod play it well? Or is what we saw from him last year what we're going to get? He's be a nice target to throw to at 1B.
2006-11-30 13:58:43
43.   choirboyzgirl
42- If past experience is an indicator A-Rod will play 1st base well for the first two years have an off year, then IMO bounce back (like I predict will happen in 2007) and that will be just in time for his contract renewal :)

But would he want to learn yet another new position (especially for the very patient and forgiving Yankees fans). :) Hey if Cashman really wants to trade him but wants Alex to make the first move that may be a way to do it LOL.

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